Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

We enjoyed a nice Christmas eve dinner. The Wiseman family was going to come join us for the evening, but we were sad to get a call from them at at dinner time that they were having chain trouble and wouldn't be able to make it for a couple more hours, so we decided that it would be better to get together on another day. We missed them, but it was fun to have Lizzy, Robert, and Eve join us.

After dinner we opened our Christmas eve gifts- PJ's, and the gift from David's family- a new cook book (that I can't wait to try out), and a new game.

We were all tired, and the kids headed off to bed the earliest all week! The girls all slept upstairs in the bonus room together.

Melissa and Rachel help cook dinner: Apricot Cream Cheese Chicken wrapped in a puff pastry with Peach Chutney. We made 21!

Empty seats at our table. :-(
Fun Game from David's family.
Jennifer and sleepy Eve.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Night Before -The Night Before Christmas

One of the traditions that has stuck in our home happens on The Night Before The Night Before Christmas. This is the night our kids sleep in the living room under the Christmas tree. Well- they used to sleep under the tree when they were little. . . now they take up the whole room and sleep on the couches, on cots, on pads. . ..
This year Grandma B sent a package for the kids to open on this special night. They were excited to open up snugly blankets and socks!

Thank you Grandma B!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Snowy Sunday

It is Sunday, and church was cancelled again today because of snow and ice. We were told again that we could administer the sacrament to our family or join with other families in our neighborhood. We were invited to the Laney's house for service at 12:30. We all bundled up and walked over there. Going across our lawn was an interesting experience. There was an 1/2 inch thick sheet of ice on top of the snow. As we walked it sounded like we were breaking glass as it snapped and broke into big pieces that we could pick up. We didn't leave the usual footprints. Bishop Walker, his wife and son were there, and later we were joined by the Jones family. We opened with song (Jessica on the piano) and prayer (Brian) and then the Bishop shared some thoughts. We then shared testimonies. The Sacrament was given (Brian, Kevin, & Brother Jones), and we closed with song and prayer. Before leaving to visit some other single sisters in the ward, the Bishop took the opportunity to give us a quick tithing settlement. We stayed and visited a while. Kevin played a game of chess with John Laney, Melissa tried out an electric violin of a YA that was staying at the Laney's house, we drank hot chocolate, and visited. Then we bundled up and walked home- it was now snowing again. We had a nice lamb roast for dinner and now are just relaxing. We will probably play a game this evening.

These past two Sundays have been very relaxing. It has made me re-think how we spend our sabbath days. It should be a break from the week. Sometimes Sundays exhaust me.

Here is a picture Brian took last night as we were out playing in the snow and sledding. It shows how much snow we got since the other day when I posted the last picture of our snowman. This is me, Jessica, and Rachel.
Here is Rachel in the green space, now white space, making a snow angel.Here Rachel and I are walking up the stairs by the pool/rec center. The stairs are packed with the snow on the right hand side. This is where we were sledding down. Jessica can make it down the stairs, across the lawn, and across the street. She even made it once into the driveway of the house across the street. Brian and I would stand in the street to watch for cars. We'd tell Jessica when to open her eyes so she wouldn't run into the lamp post. She would close them because of the snow getting in her eyes.
Yesterday Rachel finished her gingerbread house! You may have seen the process if you checked out my dad's blog.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow, Snow, and more Snow!

This happy snowman came from California, but he didn't bring any sunshine- he brought SNOW!

Here it is Friday, and the kids got the whole week off! When the roads looked clear last night, and the school web page said they wouldn't make a decision on school closures until 3am, the kids hit the computers. Not for gaming or hooking up with friends this time, but to do homework. There were a few assignments completed, and everyone was off to bed. Early this morning when I got up to check the school site, Kevin was already up and checking- no school. Melissa and Jessica had already checked and went back to bed. It has been a relaxing week. No running here and there to lessons and practices. We actually have eaten together as a family more times this month than we have since school started in September!

We had a great visit with my folks. They left Tuesday at about 9:30am. They had planned on leaving Monday- I was hoping to get them to stay until the Westview Choir concert on Wed, but after school being closed on Monday, they checked the news weather report and found the Tuesday would be the clearest day of the week. So they made a break for it when the roads looked clear. Good thing too- we've been home bound all week. No school, no concerts, no band practice, no cello lessons, no nothing. I went to Costco on Tuesday and made sure we had food. Brian has worked from home all week. The kids have played out in the snow and out with friends. Jennifer has been going to work- good thing for the 4 wheel drive on the suburban. I've gone out a couple of times to take kids to friends homes to play, and to do a little Christmas shopping. It snowed this morning, but it is pretty much melted now. I will be venturing out to take Jessica to piano lessons, and then Jennifer to work. For date night Brian and I will go to a party. Any ideas for a good white elephant gift?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snowy Sunday

Today it snowed. First we got a call telling us that our 9:15am choir practice was cancelled. A little bit later we got a call from the Elder's quorum saying church was cancelled, but President Bair said that Brian and Kevin had permission to administer the sacrament to our family if we wanted. The third call we received informed us that the Stake Christmas Choir Fireside was postponed until next Sunday. (Brian, Jessica, and I are singing in that).
So we enjoyed a leisurely oatmeal breakfast, and at 11am we held our own Church services. Brian conducted. Jessica played the piano, and we sang an opening song and had a prayer. After the announcements, we had the sacrament service done by Kevin and Grandpa. Brian gave us a talk/lesson that he had prepared for his CTR class. It was on Being Kind to Animals. We had a nice discussion on all the animal stories we could think of that are found in the scriptures and discussed what we can learn from them. We closed with song and prayer. For Sunday school we watched the First Presidency Christmas Broadcast that we had recorded and not watched yet. It was a special day to spend with the family. It was so heart warming to see the sacred ordinances performed in our home by family members holding the priesthood.

For dinner we had sweet and sour pork. Jennifer was a trouper and did all the deep frying. It was yummy and we were all full. Some of Kevin's friends dropped by to say hello, and got to see all the cute braids Jessica did in his hair as he had been sleeping on the couch. He was sore and tiered from his 12 hour marching practice yesterday.

Everyone but me and mom bundled up and went for a walk in the snow. Jennifer got a good preview of what she will be facing in Idaho in a few weeks when she heads up to school. The girls curled up with books in front of the fireplace. Later we had snacks and played Ticket to Ride- The Mom Team won! What a surprise after dad blocked our path. HA-HA!

Well, that was our snowy day. I now hear guitar music coming from the living room.
School has been cancelled tomorrow. I guess mom and dad can't go home tomorrow either- we feel lucky. Maybe we can get them to stay to hear the choir concert on Wed night. Dad has posted a bunch of pictures on his blog, so check that out when you get a chance.

Christmas Dinner at the Nauvoo Mansion House

We had a very nice Ward Christmas Party this year. It was different than ones we have had in the past. We received an invitation to the Nauvoo Mansion House for dinner and Christmas celebration from Joseph and Emma Smith. We had wassail and egg nog to drink as we mingled before dinner. The choir came in caroling - Brian, Jessica, and I sang. The Smith Family sat at the head table and asked us all to be seated. Grandpa took our serving dishes to get filled up. We had Stringed Beef, potatoes, carrots, coleslaw, rolls, and sugar cookies for dessert.During the meal Porter Rockwell even came to surprise us!
The Primary children decorated the tree and sang some carols. Then Joseph said it was time to dance and sing!
For the party I was asked to put together a fiddle group so we could all dance the Virginia Reel and Waltz. We ended up with 2 violins (Melissa & Barb Laney), 2 cellos (Rachel & Mark Elsworth), 1 flute (me), 1 guitar (Brian), and 1 clarinet (Courtney Smith). After researching for way too many hours of what music was appropriate for the time period (1843), I found that I had music we could use in Rachel's fiddle book from her lessons, and the Play a Song of America and Play a Song of Christmas series that I got so our family could play together since we have such a wild array of instruments and abilities.It turned out to be a lot of fun for us playing in the group. We ended up playing Turkey in the Straw repeated over, and over, and over. . .
For the waltz we played Ash Grove.

We played Silent Night and everyone sang along.
To end off the evening on a spiritual note, Bishop Walker spoke. He had the youth recite the Living Christ, which they had been challenged to memorize this year. Jessica, Melissa, and Rachel each said a part. (Kevin was at Drum practice.) After the Bishop's testimony and closing remarks we sang I Believe in Christ.
After the party was over and they were cleaning up, Melissa and Barb wanted to play some more. So we just started playing through the music we had. It was fun! A big thankyou to Grandma who did our 1843 hair dos. It was fun to dress up. It was fun to get to wear my dress from the Melodrama again. Melissa said she thinks she was born in the wrong era.

Meadow Park Concerts

This has been a fun week of concerts for the Meadow Park Middle School. To make it even better, Grandma and Grandpa Greenall came up to join us!
Wednesday the 10th was the Winter Band Concert. Rachel had her first performance in the 6th grade band playing the clarinet. She even announced a number. They played selections from their Standard of Excellence Book 1: Hot Cross Buns, Au Claire De La Lune, Down by the Station, Country Walk, Good King Wenceslas, and Jolly Old St. Nicholas.

Melissa played her trumpet in the Jazz Band playing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". She played in a trumpet trio on mutes for part of it. In the Advanced Band she played Celtic Air and Dance, and Evil Ways. It was a very nice concert.

On Thursday was the Orchestra Concert. Rachel played in the beginning group on the cello. They played: Song for Christine, Natalie's Rose, Dreidel, For Pete's Sake, and Ode To Joy. The beginning group consists of two violins and two cellos.
The Advanced orchestra is a little bigger- they have 6 violins (one wasn't there)! They played: La Bamba, and Swallow Tail Jig.
The big finale number was Jingle bells, which both groups played together. It sounded great as Rachel played the melody, and Melissa played a ornamental part on top (along with the other players too of course). The school choirs performed performed after the orchestra. I hear they were good, however Grandma, Jennifer, and I didn't stay and headed off to the RS Enrichment Christmas party. We made it just in time. We missed the appetizers and dinner but got there as they were serving dessert. As we sat down the High Priest servers brought us in dinner. It was tastey! We had time to eat before the program started. It was a program titled "Sounds of Christmas". It had narration, music numbers, and slides. It was beautiful.
It was a very nice evening. Oh, one more thing. . . we have added another instrument to our family. Melissa brought home a tuba!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Rectials

Saturday was a musical day- a first of many of the season!
Rachel's was the first. She had a cello recital at 11am. As she was tuning up in preparation, "Oh NO!" her A string broke! Luckily her teacher had an extra one in her case, so they put it on and tuned her up. She played a duet with her teacher titled Perpetual Motion. She did a great job. It was fun to hear the different students at their different level of expertise!

(unfortunately I'm unable to get the picture off my camera- the doohickey that does that isn't working!)

Later that day we went to the Cedar Hill Crossing Mall and listened to Melissa play in a violin concert with Segue Violin Studios. It was in the food court area. Melissa played in every number- the duet part to all of them. It was a very nice concert also. After the teacher tuned everyone up, she started the concert- however the concert wasn't to start until 3:30 and it was only 3:15! This wasn't good for Brian was off picking up Jessica from Drum practice early so she could enjoy the concert too. I didn't want them to miss half the concert, so after the first number I motioned to my watch to the teacher. I mentioned that the concert wasn't to start to 3:30, right? She said but everyone is here- I said no! So they stopped, and waited 10 minutes to resume. Right as they were beginning again, Brian and Jessica walked in. PERFECT TIMING! At the conclusion of the concert, she asked if anyone wanted to hear anything else since they were all here. Another parent requested the first song again- since they were in the bookstore browsing, waiting for the concert to start. . . So anyway everyone got to hear the whole concert.
Here are the numbers they played:
The Magic of Christmas
Silent Night
Polka dot Waltz
The Rainbow
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
The Blacksmith
The Medallion Calls, from the Pirates of the Caribbean (this drew a crowd from shoppers!)
I am a Child of God
Oh Lord Most Holy
Jolly Old St. Nic
Jingle Bells.

Monday, December 1, 2008

In Search for Edmund

On Saturday the 29th, we went in search for our perfect Christmas Tree for the season. We found a great u-cut place last year called:Luckily for us it turned out to be the same farm Kevin and Jessica would be working at for their Winter Percussion fundraiser! So with coupon in hand, and boots on feet, we headed out there. Jessica drove us, so it was an adventure on those windy roads! As we got closer, and higher on the mountain it got pretty foggy.
We like this farm because of the nice covered area where they serve you hot chocolate, and provide fires to warm you up. They also have a nice big wagon they take you up to where you want to cut your tree. The roads are all labeled with Christmas names, and on a clear day the view is beautiful.
I think this was one of the fastest finds we've ever had. After we took the wagon ride up to where the 9 foot nobles were, and less than a half hour of hunting, we had all agreed on Edmund. The kids name our tree each year, and they decided it was a boy, and that was the name for him. (Billy Bob Joe Jr. want-a-be the 5th, being one of the most memorable names yet). The farm provided the saw, and the measuring pole. After we cut down Edmund, they picked him up, hauled him down the mountain,bundled him, and hauled him to our car! Great service! (Next weekend, Jessica and Kevin will be helping haul the trees with their band buddies- they get $5 a tree for those that bring a flyer they handed out.)
Edmund now stands proudly in our living room. Rachel, Melissa, and Jennifer covered him in lights when we were at choir practice Sunday evening. The living room is now full of decoration boxes ready to be emptied!